Survival Mode

I feel like we are all in survival mode.

Recently I read a biography in which, the author made a comment that most people journal during difficult times, sorrow, or when life is hard. Although I do have times of journaling out frustrations or difficulty, I think that as a writer, I tend to write when things are at least on a happy-ish trajectory. I write during times of difficulty or stress, but typically with the notion of some kind of hope, clarity, or solution. Most of the time I am in the mood to write because I can at least see the light at the end of the tunnel, even if I have not gotten there yet.

Today feels different. I’m not entirely sure where the light is, nor how to get there. I believe it’s there, I know it’s there, and I know God won’t let us down. Faith is still alive and well within my soul. But, rather than seeing some kind of hope or light, I rather feel that my hope is all I have. I don’t see anything. Thus my faith is more required. My life is whittling down to: Jesus. He is all we’ve got.

Could it be the drippy, cold, dreary, windy weather outside? Maybe. Could it be the chaos and non-stop craziness of our house and moving? Maybe. Could it be our sin, flesh, and temptations rising up out of us? Maybe. Could it be the prince of the power of the air, prowling around ready to get in the way of those who call upon the name of the Lord? Maybe.

But maybe, just maybe, Jesus is all we’ve ever got. Maybe this feeling of not seeing light, isn’t accurate at all. If I see Jesus, that’s all the light I need. If Jesus is here, if I have the gift of faith, I need no sight. I need no solution. Because I have it all in Christ!

What’s at the bottom of my problem then? I guess that’s what I have to ask myself. Why do I feel we are in a dark and miry pit, even though I know I have everything I need in Jesus? I suppose our family is in a low state right now. Everyone feels on the brink of failure (except for Lois because she’s so stinkin’ cute and has no clue of the problems of the world).

Waldo’s emotions are taking him all over the place, from intense anger to awkward laughter. Dolly is constantly agitated, stubborn, and self-sufficient. Bobby has been asking existential questions and experiencing an identity crisis all over again. Lois is teething, refusing to eat food, and is growing more willful every moment.

And me? Well, my heart is being flung in a million directions. Like the rest of my Kunkle clan, I’m on an emotional roller coaster that has no warning as to the next twist or turn. Sometimes I feel on top of the world. Sometimes I feel sorrow and loss that I can not begin to explain. Sometimes I feel adventurous. Other times I feel like I want to reverse it all, settle right back into the comfy life I’m used to: cozy, snug, predictable, and controlled. Most of the time I am easily irritable and annoyed. But then follows bouts of guilt, tears, and continual confession for my impatience and pride.

Do you see what I mean? Does this not describe some good ol’ “depths of despair” material right here?

I suppose this is the point in my writing where I would typically offer a reflective, Biblical solution. This is where the happy-ish trajectory would be inserted. And I know it’s here somewhere. Maybe all these emotions are completely normal. Maybe I shouldn’t feel too bad after all, and just let the phase happen and pass. Maybe I just meditate and pray.

Yes. Pray.

And I know, life won’t stay here. The sun will indeed come out eventually. The Lord will provide. Life will continue. We will celebrate pi day tonight with my brother and his wife. I will laugh when Lois toddles around. I will hug Dolly and make her squeal with delight. Waldo will announce, “I love you,” probably 5 more times today. Bobby will smile and say some brilliant thought he has. Life will resume.

But I feel like as life happens, it will be survived, rather than lived. We may not be thriving at this very moment of our existence, but by the grace of God we are surviving! Our days are filled with unpredictability, external and internal battles, and just inhaling and exhaling as our breath magically appears in our lungs, time and time again. We might seem okay on the outside, and might even seem okay on the inside, but there is something just not-okay in general about everything right now.

Too much! We are not handling this very well!

And that’s I suppose where I end. We can’t handle anything well, right now. And that’s when I cry to the Lord: Uphold me according to your promise, that I may live, and let me not be put to shame in my hope! (Ps. 119:17). That’s all we need. We just need some upholding around here. Some good old-fashion stability, help, and assurance that everything will be okay.

And yet, I already know the Lord has answered my cry. Our cry. The beautiful thing about our survival mode is that our sustenance is truly divine. There have been hundreds of times in the last 48 hours where I reacted to my situation in a holy manner, looked around, and thought, Who just did that? That certainly wasn’t me. I feel the grace of the Lord continual with me. I experience his tangible sanctification. I see his answers to my prayers. I somehow or another actually do things right, and have no idea where it came from. Well, I do have an idea. The right things I do are not coming from me, but rather God who is my counselor, my fortress, and my shield!

So as we survive this survival-mode phase in our life, we survive with Christ’s breath, strength, perseverance, and life. I have no idea if this Bible verse is taken out of context, but it encouraged me none-the-less, “The people who survived the sword, found grace in the wilderness; when Israel sought for rest, the Lord appeared to him from far away.” (Jeremiah 31:2-3).

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